To identify the hurdles faced by startups, they need to form a dedicated office to share their grievances, said Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering during the review of the start-ups and cottage and small industry development flagship on November 28.
“If we have a dedicated office for startups’ grievance address system, it would be able to advise the government on what is working and not working,” said Lyonchhen.
An official from the Department of Cottage and Small Industry (DCSI) presented their achievement that the department has finalized the Brand Bhutan guidelines and conducted business advocacy workshop to over 350 entrepreneurs on Cottage and Small Industry (CSI policy), Startup and CSI Flagship Program in the Dzongkhags and Technical Training Institutes.
Moreover, the DCSI has conducted CSI EXPO, CSI Fair, Bhutan Enterprise Award, and product launching event that led to the launch of seven new products namely Socks, Freed Meat, Dragon Coders, Touch from Heaven, Empire House International, Bhutan Essence, and Bhutan Mountain Herb sand five enterprise awards.
Additionally, 11 artisans were trained on sand casting and engraving on copper sheet, and 40 youths were trained on entrepreneurship in Mongar and 27 in Sarpang, while 23 are undergoing at Thimphu Techpark.
During the event, Lyonchhen said the government is not interested about the frequency of trainings conducted but in the trainings’ outcome and how many of the trained entrepreneurs went out to actually start businesses.
The government would tweak the policy if it were challenging for the startups and the system should identify what are the things to add up if successful and what are the things that could prevent them from failing, said Lyonchhen.
Moreover, Lyonchhen talked on having a hierarchy of entrepreneurs since the Changzamtok startup center is crowded as it could be the center for the final finishing of the products.
He also addressed on having a flexible tendering system but not on favoring or politicizing the system.
“If there is any mismanagement in quotation system, I will make the system, department, and division responsible,” said Lyonchhen.
“When CSIs pick up, it requires change in legal framework, it might be in taxation policy, import restriction, otherwise we will never let the local products grow,” said Lyonchhen.
However, there should be alternative for import substitution, and promote local products if it is ready and have potential, he added.
Director General Tandin Tshering of DCSI said the draft strategic paper on operational modality of startup is completed and department plans to create autonomous Business Startup Center by June next year.
The department is also drafting equity financing guidelines and draft implementing modality for product promotion in the Dzongkhags to support import substation.
The request for proposals for training providers’ selection for bakery and business management training was completed.
Fablab, Bhutan is currently developing the CSI database, where domain name registration with Bhutan Telecom was completed.
The department recognized one of the challenges being lengthy procurement process that delays the works or consultancy services for machines and equipments and suggested to have decisions or support required for direct procurement or to allow procurement through limited tendering under flagship.
The other challenge was on the establishment of market outside Bhutan whereby it was not possible to establish embassy within the premises and required support from foreign ministry on identification of partners or exploring possibilities of hiring spaces for market establishment abroad.
The government has allocated Nu 1.2bn for the startup and CSI development flagship budget for the 12th five-year -plan of which Nu 235.394mn is approved for fiscal year 2019-2020.
The DCSI has utilized Nu 7.383mn as of now and identified 35 successful indicators in its annual performance agreement of which three are achieved, 32 are on track.
CSIs accounts more than 95% of industries in the country and play a critical role in diversification of the economy.
The CSI Policy was launched during Bhutan Economic Forum for Innovative Transformation in July 2019.
The implementing partners are labor ministry, department of agriculture and marketing cooperatives, Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority, Department of Trade and Bhutan Standard Bureau.
Thukten Zangpo from Thimphu